No. 1 Schniederjans goes down - to No. 776

By Ryan LavnerAugust 15, 2014, 12:06 am

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Surrounded by hundreds all day, Ollie Schniederjans just wanted to be alone. Late Thursday afternoon, he retreated to a private spot in the Atlanta Athletic Club locker room, in front of stall B-229.

Moments earlier, in front of about 300 hometown fans, the Georgia Tech junior had stumbled off the 18th green after a stunning 1-up loss to Gunn Yang in the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur.

“Who is that guy?” Schniederjans asked during a quiet moment in the locker room. “I mean, I’ve never heard of him. He’s going to be incredible. He’s the best player in the world … well, today he is.”

Today, perhaps, but to locate Yang in the world amateur rankings you’d have to keep scrolling – to No. 776.

Schniederjans, meanwhile, has played as the No. 1 all summer, and he likely will remain there at week’s end, earning him spots in both 2015 summer Opens.

Not that he was thinking about that consolation prize afterward.

“I’m just extremely disappointed,” he said.

The thing is, the 21-year-old could easily have bailed early. He could have followed NCAA Player of the Year Patrick Rodgers to the pros. After a school-record, five-win season, Schniederjans could have collected a big-time equipment deal, received a few sponsor exemptions, tried to make it on his own.

But turning pro early would have just felt … unsatisfying.

Despite never winning the NCAA team title, Georgia Tech has churned out a number of pro prospects over the years. Matt Kuchar and Bryce Molder won the Haskins Award as the nation’s best player. Troy Matteson won the NCAA title. David Duval was a four-time All-American.

So, sure, while Schniederjans acknowledges there is the potential to rewrite the school record books, that’s not his main motivation.

No, this is finally his year to be the guy, the No. 1, because during the 2013-14 season, he played so well but still didn’t receive the recognition he deserved.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, videos and photos

Last spring he engaged in a cross-country game of H.O.R.S.E. with Stanford’s Rodgers, each guy trading wins and top finishes as they battled for Player of the Year honors. With one final chance to sway voters, Schniederjans lost in a playoff at the NCAA Championship.

“The stress that he was under last spring,” Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The kid was burned out, physically and mentally, which is why he has played only one amateur event (Palmer Cup) this summer. In the weeks leading up to the Amateur, he quietly worked on his game and even headed to California, to the Titleist Performance Institute, to get his equipment dialed in.

“He wanted to make sure he had enough energy to deal with what was coming,” Heppler said, “and that was the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

That much was apparent during the 36-hole qualifier. Out of sync while playing in a painfully slow three-ball, Schniederjans carded an opening 73, placing him outside the cut line after Round 1.

“When he stepped to the tee on Monday, I told him: You want to know what Rory McIlroy will feel like when he steps to the first tee at Augusta? You’re feeling it now,” Heppler said.

“The players going against Rory are better, of course, but the emotions and feelings and nerves, they’re all the same, regardless of the competition. When you’re the guy, the world No. 1, in your hometown, all he could really do was screw it up.”

But he didn’t, rebounding with a 69 to advance to match play. When asked how it felt, to finally be the top player and the main target in an elite event, Schniederjans replied: “Great. In my comfort zone, like that’s where I should be.”

Which was yet another reason to come back for his senior year.

“Every single tournament he plays he’s going to be the favorite,” Heppler said. “You don’t learn that stuff by finishing 15th in a event. If you really want to progress, to be one of the best players in the world, you have to learn how to deal with the emotions.”

After a 6-and-5 win in the first round, Schniederjans let a late lead slip Thursday morning against Sam Burns. On the first playoff hole, he could only watch as Burns’ 10-footer to win slid by. Schniederjans wound up prevailing on the second playoff hole.

He seemed well on his way to cruising in the afternoon as well, jumping out to a 2-up lead through four holes. “So this is how the No. 1 player in amateur golf plays,” Yang said to himself, but the San Diego State sophomore birdied three in a row (Nos. 5, 6 and 7) to return the match to all square.

Another birdie binge would follow. After Schniederjans regained a 1-up advantage with a par on the difficult 15th, Yang went on a torrid run that left Schniederjans stunned.

On 16, Yang hit a pitching wedge from the fairway bunker to 10 feet. Birdie.

On 17, from nearly the same yardage (142) as the hole before, he stuffed his tee shot to 7 feet. Birdie.

And though the tee was moved up on the par-5 18th, making a narrow fairway even tighter, he bombed a 320-yard drive that left him only a 6-iron into the green. After Schniederjans’ shot from the bunker trickled onto the back fringe, Yang hit a bullet from 190 yards that settled 15 feet away for an easy two-putt birdie to close out the win.

“He was out of his mind, really,” said Schniederjans, who shot 3 under on his own ball, counting the usual concessions. “It took everything he had to get 1 up, so I’m proud I was that hard to beat.”

But there was no mistaking that the disappointment will take a few days, maybe even a week, to subside. 

While Schniederjans slumped on a bench in the locker room, Yang smiled wide as he sat on a wooden chair in the upstairs media center, reliving the best round of his life.

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Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.

Full-field scores from the SAS Championship

''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

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Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.

Full-field scores from the British Masters

A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

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Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.

Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos

The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."